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tv   [untitled]    May 24, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm PDT

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reporters that walk around city hall, took pictures of the lack of accessibility of this building, and it is now 2012, and there has been no headway on this issue. i know you have thought about it. i definitely appreciate the creativity of thinking about how you use technology on this issue, but can you tell me why there has been no progress in getting close to four years? >> online, from a technical standpoint, i was looking for a true solution to be able to do updates on the flight. i guess it is equally possible to be able to implement all the static documents, and if that is sufficient, i believe we can move on that very quickly, but the delay in large part was looking for how we deal with the request to be able to update on a daily basis. >> how is our bilingual staff when it comes to security and sheriff's apartment at the door? i think that is one aspect of how we address this. >> we actually are not -- we do
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not specifically supervise our deputies. however, the sheriff's department has been good about providing multilingual deputies and cadets, and i think you will find that over time, the numbers of multilingual cadets and deputies has increase. that is something we will be working with our new sheriff with as well. supervisor chiu: which i appreciate. i have seen very few deputies that could, for example, speak cantonese, given the number of constituents in san francisco that need that help. it is a constant challenge. with regards to, i think, just the use of technology -- so the idea is to put these computer terminals at the entrances, but not in other parts of the city hall building? that ultimately, we would like to replace all of our building directories with these. ultimately. supervisor chiu: 1 historic preservation issues clash with historic issues, what is that about? it is hard to imagine that we cannot think about how to put the sign for a committee hearing in, say, two or three languages,
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at least the three major languages we know are spoken here in san francisco. >> yes, that is something we will be working on. supervisor chiu: what has the conversation been? has the historic preservation said no can do? this is actually the first i had heard. it has been a challenge we have been unable to move through. >> we have not really had many conversations. we are continuing to move forward with this process here. supervisor chiu: i guess because this is new to me, no one from the historic preservation community has ever said language access is an issue and that we only want to have the language of english at city hall. has that been articulated by historic preservation officials? >> it has not. supervisor chiu: is this just speculation on your part that it is an issue? >> the issue with us is where we put the signs of, what it will look like. the issues we have are the
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nature of the building, you know, the materials of the building are not well-suited to just putting a number of signs of at all entrances, so we are trying to find a solution that is a single solution for multiple languages. using this electronic solution. supervisor chiu: i will say on the issue of global trends late, i think we all are very familiar with its shortcomings. i think the fact that the land use committee might be translated to the ground functions committee leaves a lot to be desired. i know that the offices of the struggle with the question of how we do this, but if there are ways for us to think about how to have more accurate translations, i think that will be really important. where is your complaint procedure for taking in questions from members of the public cannot find their way around city hall? >> in all honesty, we have not
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had complaints on those issues directed to the city hall building management, so we do not have a process at this point for that. supervisor chiu: i think that is one of the challenges. when i walked around city hall, the number of folks who do not speak english to come up to me asking for help is huge. oftentimes, i am unable to help them, and i wonder where all of this goes. let me ask one other question -- i know your department reports to the real estate departments. have you received support from your parent agency on how to resolve these issues? >> yes, we do. supervisor chiu: how are they helping to resolve this? >> they will be helping by assisting us with funding to pursue this concept further. there is a number of areas, not to mention the electronics, but also running the conduit, finding the power at the locations we need it. there is a fair amount of money we will be receiving for that. supervisor chiu: do you have a
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schedule of when you could implement this? >> we are in the process of assessing exactly what our costs will be in terms of running the gauntlet. >> -- supervisor chiu: could i suggest one thing? we are about to go into the budget season, and over the next few weeks, in my office could work with you to really flesh this out, i would like us to consider may be moving forward in this budget cycle. the number of folks who come into this building for access to government, i think we have to get this piece right, so i'm happy to work with you to think about how we move through this, particularly if they are historic preservation issues, and if we need to get historic preservation city folks together to work through these, i want to see what we can do to move forward on this in short order. thank you very much. do you have any comments on this topic? >> thank you. just a couple of thoughts. first of all, i wanted to make a comment on the reliance we all
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have on using machine translation tools over human translators. as you well know, since your own page on google translate comes out all wacky -- supervisor chiu: which is why we do not use that anymore. >> it is an ever told. it took my staff about a week to translate all of those pages. we are looking at a hybrid version -- machine and people. he always have to have a human being to look at the translation to make sure it is accurate and correct. the second is i highly recommend not using flags as an icon on a city hall kiosk. it sends a different message than just putting the language in a box in a language that you can translate to theory lastly, we did not mention this earlier, but the issue of cultural
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competency in all of our collateral materials through the city -- it is not just the language translation, but also speaking to the nuances of the community that you are trying to reach, and that is where we could really engaged our community partners to help us make sure that our communication tools, whether it is in writing or is spoken, or electronic, is appropriate to our different cultures. lastly, there are some really simple solutions that do not cost a lot of money and that can be implemented immediately. for instance, my staff actually translated the welcome sign into different languages, just the welcome sign in different languages, already sends a message to the public, and those are things that do not have to wait two years to get implemented. they can be done very quickly. you can have a brochure created, and even if you have to produce it yourself, it can be a quality piece of collateral. those are just some quick
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recommendations. i look forward to working with you. supervisor chiu: i think those are great recommendations, and it strikes me that a meeting between our respective staffs could probably work through these issues pretty quickly. maybe we could use 10 computers to do this, but if we had two or three at the city hall kiosk desk and folks knew how to direct and there, i would think that would not take that long to implement, and i agree that a lot of translation -- we know that with basic information, we get asked different departments to provide that information to city hall building management, and on more particular questions, i wonder if there is some help desk function or a way for people to call someone to help address some of these issues. i feel confident we can work through these issues relatively quickly. is there anything else you would like to add? ok, again, why don't i suggest if your offices could coordinate and, hopefully, if you are able to work through these issues, i would like to be briefed on what you plan to
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present at the budget committee so we can hopefully get this down in short order. with that, why don't we move to a number of other departments? i see greg from the treasurer's office. >> good afternoon. office of treasurer and tax collector. thank you for calling here in our office 60 ordinance very seriously, particularly as a tier one department that has many interactions with the public. i did want to give you a summary of what is in the report, which is that we are happy to report that our signage is in compliance. approximately 10% or 50% of our direct services with constituents and taxpayers who are limited english proficient, and i can be as high as 25% with
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our passport services. in order to meet this need, currently, 86 of our 129 staff members that interact with the public are bilingual. that is about 2/3. we continue to have language skills and bilingual skills as part of our desired qualifications for those staff as we have hiring opportunities and we continue to recruit and hire multilingual staff. we offer electronic payments to the department in our interactive voice response technology. when you call in, you can utilize that in spanish, cantonese, for mandarin. in addition, we are excited to report that over the past year, we have implemented the language line service. this is a general contractor for the city where if you are on the phone with someone, and they are
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not speaking the language that that particular individual speaks, you can essentially conference call in a translator and -- in far more languages than are required in the language access ordinance, and then be able to have that conversation with them. that can also be accomplished in person by having a phone call or speakerphone where you can actually have that translator on the line. we are excited that we have been implementing that within the last year. as we have new forms and materials to guide taxpayers, we translate those and have those implemented. and i did want to highlight our great office of financial empowerment programs that are really out in the community, and in order to meet the needs of particular communities, we have those materials translated into actually five languages rather
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than the required spanish and chinese. we also have that in tagalog, russian, and vietnamese. supervisor chiu: i appreciate your report, and i'm pleased to say that while spokesmen have complaints about the treasurer and tax collector's office related to taxes, i know your department has made a lot of great strides in the area of language access in recent years. one thing i know your department does is you have an internal language access ordinance team really trying to address these issues, and i think that is an interesting model that other departments really should consider. can you talk about the effectiveness or how that has worked internally? >> that has been focused in our taxpayer assistance group. one thing -- since we have so many interactions with the public, for delivery here at city hall and over the phone, we are able to focus in on that group of about 15 to 20 individuals and utilize them as that team that is addressing these issues, so they have
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really risen to the challenge, and the section had for taxpayer assistance has worked hard on that. i think our success has been the fact that we have a very committed section head who has been working very hard, and i want to acknowledge grace o'connor who has been doing that work. supervisor chiu: you mentioned the language line, which i think is something more agencies could take advantage of and maybe it's something we could use year -- have you found that to be a cost-efficient way of addressing the language holds you may have in your apartment? >> we have. they do have a small upfront capital investment, which is only a couple thousand dollars, if you want to have special phones to be put in, but after that, it is a couple dollars a minute phone access that you pay as you use it, so it is really scalable, and we found it to be helpful for taxpayers and constituents. supervisor chiu: thank you very much. next, i would like to call up
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the san francisco police department. >> good afternoon, supervisors. the one incident with the robbery victim -- i do not have any information, and i have asked for additional, but we have very strict policy and guidelines that require the officer that does not speak the language they are presented with to get a certified bilingual officer to assist or use the language access line. when i have this details, i will be able to follow up with that. we have 34 different languages spoken within the police department by sworn members. they are not all certified.
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we have a significant ever of officers that speak the core languages, but we have a large number of languages we can interpret or speak to the public in the city. here we have begun scheduled meetings with the police commissioner, the asian law caucus, and primarily domestic violence advocates, with the need to be able to get quick response to violent incidents. we have representatives from the department of emergency management assisting in some of those meetings. it does not really make sense for us to do the same thing in different agencies, so we are trying to come together and cover some of the interpretation requirements within the city, but also some of the translation services that are needed. recently, -- we have discussed
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everything being electronic within the city, but for the homeless people, they do not have access to a computer, so some of the homeless outreach resources we have were completed last week. we have those out at the station so they can be given to the homeless outreach office is to address the needs of just another group within the community that we have. last year, we were requested to do a presentation before the civil grand jury and the chief, and i met with the civil grand jury. at that time, we had about 2100 police officers. we are down to about a little over 2000 right now, but the languages spoken have not changed. we currently have eight lateral class in the police academy. it is a very diverse group. ethnically, culturally, and
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their language abilities will assist in san francisco continuing to provide services to the public. i think our lao requirements are moving along. if we were not in compliance, we are certainly developing trading strategies. we have quite a number of police service aides who are aggressively being trained in language access and how to utilize the two-headset phones. a police service aid cannot take a domestic violence report, but we do not want the public to wait around at a police station for an officer that can translate in the situation. even if we cannot get the officer there, we can at least explain to the victim what is happening, and that has been an issue in the past where people
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have in fact waited too long for an officer or explanation of what is going on, so we are working aggressively with that group, a rarity mentioned. we are putting together new training videos for our sworn members on how to handle the presentation of somebody that does not speak english and the need to get an officer or certified civilian interpreter, and that is being done with the office of citizen complaints, who had been very helpful in this area. at police commission on every wednesday night, we do have a spanish and a cantonese/mandarin officer available there for the public that may show up, and at every community meeting that results in a critical incident or police officer-involved shooting, we have assistance
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with those translation services needed, but we take as many police officers that are certified as we can. supervisor chiu: i appreciate your presentation, and i know the police department has been challenged in recent years in getting your capabilities of, and i appreciate what work you have been doing. i cannot think of a more important area than public safety and the agency you represent to make sure we have adequate language access. we know this is critical in so many situations involving witnesses and victims. in the domestic violence arena, we have had some tragic incidents involving modeling will individuals that have mental health issues who we were unable to communicate with at the time. the question i have is around how you are setting goals in your department around bilingual staff. let me provide my own anecdotal experience. when i have seen emergency situations in my district -- typically, these involve fires or other very serious situations in sro buildings in and around
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chinatown, five of the last six times i shall but the scene, there were no bilingual personnel, and i had to call friends, community leaders, and my staff on seem to address the language issues there. it seems to me anecdotally that we are absolutely nowhere near close to having the level of bilingual officers that we need. does the department of goals in this area of what would be adequate to staff shifts during different times a day to make sure there are enough personnel that can address an emergency situation? do you have a sense of what those targets are to be? -- ought to be? >> the issues sometimes as the officers get to choose the station they go to. it does seem that the mandarin and cantonese officers choose to work in chinatown and central station and in the richmond
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district where the asian community seem to live that do not speak english. we have very few russian- speaking officers, but the one or two that we do have tend to want to work in the richmond district. our recruitment goals certainly always look at trying to get bilingual and multilingual offices. we reach out to them in the areas where we believe they can be met. we go to colleges. we go to job fairs trying to recruit members of the public that are interested in law enforcement but also have language skills. the recent meetings with dem -- we discuss how we would identify the language skills of the officer, and some of the advocates wanted the language of
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the 911 caller identified and an officer said to address that report, but from a public safety standpoint, we have to send the officer that is closest, whatever their language skills. public safety has to be first, and an officer showing up in uniform often can address a situation, and then the language skill can be address. so we do look at trying to recruit and hire. we get a lot of people that respond to wanting to be police officers, but going through the process and the background -- background process is pretty stringent in a lot of areas. we do look at those things you have asked about. we do encourage and invite people with language skills to apply. we are always very hopeful that
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we're going to hire a significant number of those people. i think we will very soon be addressing the future hiring plan both sworn for the academy classes and civilian employees. we encourage all san francisco residents that have an interest to apply, but we also have to broaden the area we look at for recruitment. supervisor chiu: i definitely appreciate the challenges your department faces in this area. the question i have this as your captain think about shift and deployment, is it a policy to titer have someone who is bilingual in spanish helping on each shift in the mission or someone who is proficient in chinese at central station on each shift? my experience is that is not the case. i think it is one thing to have an aspirational goal that we want to have a more bilingual set of troops, but another thing to say, break it down by
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district, break it down by shift and really tried to identify whether we have enough bilingual officers. >> that is something that -- i mean, i know we would really like to do because when it comes to sign up for the shift they want, it is based on seniority, and the person with the most senior amount of time in the department gets to sign up for that shift. i know that the captains do talk to members. they do try to balance those language skills out, but there are restrictions to them being able to do that. supervisor chiu: is this a conversation to have with the police officers association? with the union? i cannot imagine that the leadership of the police department would allow for, say, shifts that are filled with senior folks that do not have bilingual skills. i just want to figure out how you balance those issues.
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>> we do try to balance it. in certain districts, the captains do have people on every shift that speak those languages. but when people have days off, they will not always be there. it is something that i will take back and we will look at the next command staff meeting. it is something we are aware of, but i think it bears looking at again. supervisor chiu: i do not want to belabor this, so i will make this final comment -- i am happy to work with command staff. if we could bring in community advocates to talk these issues through and understand and drill down what fraction of your officers are bilingual in different languages and different parts of the city so we have a sense of how far we have to go and how much we need to push on this within the police department. >> ok, i can get you those numbers. supervisor chiu: ok, cmdr. i do not see mr. reiskin from
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the mta. is there anyone from the mta here? great, thank you. >> good afternoon, supervisors. i am the regulatory affairs manager for sfmta and i also am the lao liaison. we are in a different situation because we are federally funded, and we get money from dot through fda. we have a different threshold of languages to account for, which helps us because chinese and spanish, as had been mentioned here, cantonese and mandarin, are the predominant language is in the city and county of san francisco. what we are doing on the federal level helps us meet on the local level. we do our multilingual handouts, signs, notices and other outreach materials. we are in the process of doing ofridership guide that will be
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done in spanish, russian, and vietnamese. we have expanded our contents at we have always had chinese and spanish with pages. we now have a russian, vietnamese, japanese, thai, and tagalog. they look at what are critical documents and vital information. notice of free language assistance, how to file a title 6 complaint, what it is, what our process is, and paratransit information is written into the circular that we file. that information is included on those web pages. the biggest thing we do is that 311 call center. because our schedules and routes change all the time, we have service disruption. it is hard for us to print out of the misinformation in a lot of cases, so what we have done is really promoted 311, and we have followed dot and guidance
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and produce the nine primary language is based on survey data. you will start to see this on many of our marketing campaigns and outreach materials, but it has a picture of a phone and says 311 and says free language assistance in this top nine languages. the tag line is going on everything it will fit on, and we hope that will continue to drive the traffic to 311. we have also done training, and we had a very well-received trading with director pond. she trained a group of public contact employees and their supervisors. of course, not all of them. i think we have 237, but the ones we could get in the room she trained, and it went great. i do the trading up some votes, but she really did the cultural sensitivity training. as we were just discussing, that is something that i would like to recommend, the while that
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office does training for the liaison's, it would be great if there were a way to do training or produce a video for the public contact employees in the city and county. that would be very helpful. we have also allowed for language line services access to the entire agency. rather than having to go through 311, if someone comes to our reception, they have all been trained to dial 1-800 -- or 1-866, actually, to plug in the code so that we have language assistance at the front desk. to the extent they can, they will have language line access, so the white courtesy phone on the outside the booth will connect. let's see what else. we continue to do multilingual print and broadcast media. we went through a recent effort, and again, this fall